Tuesday January 8, 2013

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

Ted Christopher started the year on a high note as he won the 40-lap Coffee Cup three-quarter midget main event inside the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, RI. Christopher came back from a fiery incident that occurred in the pit area, and, with left hand tightly bandaged, raced his to the lead by Patrick Emerling with eight laps remaining in the New Years eve classic. The win for Christopher was his sixth indoors and by far the most dramatic.

Christopher’s night started out on a high note when he ran the second quickest time trial lap and won his heat race. When he and the other drivers left the arena floor after the heat for a routine post-race fuel sample inspection, his car burst into flames. Christopher escaped with a badly burned left hand; the car sustained little damage.

Emerling, who set the fastest time and started on the pole position for the ‘Coffee Cup’, held off an array of early race challengers including Paul Lotier, Jr., and Jon Gambuti, both of whom ran a close second to Emerling. But Lotier and Gambuti were involved in early crashes. Christopher, who had started sixth in the race, moved to second behind Emerling by lap seven and put on the pressure.

Christopher himself was challenged by Anthony Sesely, and the pair swapped second place back and forth several times during a series of mid-race restarts for accidents further back in the field. In the end, Christopher got Emerling just a bit out of shape and drove by on the inside to take the lead, an advantage he would not relinquish. Sesely followed Christopher by Emerling and was on the leader’s bumper at the finish.

Hot on the heels of his win came word that Christopher will be the driver of choice for Boehler Racing on the Whelen Modified Tour Series in 2013. Christopher's first drive in the 2013 season for BRE is expected to be at Daytona in February. Christopher is a guaranteed starter for the Daytona event.

The 2013 Thompson International Speedway racing schedule has been released. The track will host three NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour races, three Valenti Modified Racing Series events, the Granite State Pro Stocks, the Northern Mini Stock Tour, the New England Truck Series and other touring series in addition to a weekly Thursday night racing schedule that will run from May 31st through August 29th.

The 2013 season will open with the traditional Icebreaker on the weekend of April 13 & 14 and will end with the World Series of Speedway Racing slated for October 18th -20th. The WMT will top the billing at each of these events and will also return for the annual 150-lap August 15 race.

The Valenti Modified Racing Series will kick off the summer season with a special Sunday race set for May 19th. The VMRS will return on Thursday, July 25th and again for the World Series on Saturday, October 19th.

The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series weekly schedule will feature five different divisions on Thursday evenings beginning May 30th and will continue through Thursday, August 29th. Competing on a weekly basis will be the Sunoco Modified, Late Models, LKQ/ Keystone Lite Modifieds, Xtra Mart Limited Sportsman and the Monster Mini Stocks. The Super Late Models will once again run a limited schedule including the Icebreaker and World Series as part of the Granite State Pro Stocks tour. Two additional dates will be announced for Super Late Models. The popular New England Truck Series has secured an August 1st race date and the North East Mini Stock Tour will return on August 29th.

As previously announced, missing from the 2013 lineup are the Thompson Modifieds. This division made its debut in 2005 and has been part of the weekly racing program ever since. However, diminishing participation and plans by several competitors to move to other divisions, forced the hand of track management to drop the division from the 2013 schedule.

In action on the tube this week, more re-runs are in store. SPEED and will be live from the high banks of Daytona International Speedway when Preseason Thunder kicks off the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season. SPEED and offer live coverage of the Jan. 10-12 test session in its entirety with SPEED live from all afternoon sessions and streaming all morning sessions.

John Roberts, Jeff Hammond and Matt Clark host SPEED's on-air coverage from the studio above pit road at the start/finish line at Daytona. Steve Byrnes calls the on-track action during the morning sessions (9 am to 12 pm/et) on alongside analysts Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace, while Hermie Sadler and Wendy Venturini handle reporting duties. Rick Allen assumes the play-by-play chair for the afternoon sessions (1-3 pm/et and 3-5 pm/et) while the NASCAR on FOX and SPEED crew of Waltrip and Larry McReynolds take over the TV booth duties. Bob Dillner and Matt Yocum report from pit road and the garage. NASCAR Editor Mike Hembree will be on site to provide coverage and perspective as well.

Special editions of NASCAR Race Hub will air Jan. 10-11 at 6 pm/et from Daytona to recap all the on- and off-track action. Furthermore, NASCAR Race Hub offers new episodes from the SPEED Studios Jan. 21-24 at 6 p.m. ET during the week of the Charlotte Motor Speedway Sprint Media Tour. The program's 2013 season premiere is slated for Feb. 4 at 6 pm/et (Monday-Thursdays at 6 pm/et).

This weeks viewing schedule shows that the Speed Channel will replay the Chicagoland Sprint Cup event on Wednesday at noon plus Daytona Sprint Cup Testing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 1:00pm on Speed.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week just about everything was on the upswing especially after our law makers took care of financial business in Washington. All three speedway stocks were up for the week. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.20 to 28.13. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.88 to 18.18 and Dover Entertainment rose 0.17 to 1.83. The "fiscal cliff" deal reached by the Senate and the White House on New Year's Eve, and passed in legislative form by the Senate early New Year's Day, includes many giveaways to special interests including an extension of a perk enjoyed by "motorsports entertainment complexes" otherwise known as the "NASCAR tax credit." The provision, under section 168(i)(15) of the federal tax code, allows speedways to write off their costs over seven years. Typically, such expensing occurs over a much longer period of time, from 15 to 39 years. The cost of the NASCAR tax credit to taxpayers has been estimated at some $40 million, over and above any tax incentives provided by state and local authorities.

In other racing related stock market action NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.32 to 5.92 while NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 1.06 to 14.35 and NASCAR fuel supplier Energy Transfer (Sunoco) went up 2.98 to 45.46. The car makers were also on the plus side for the week. Toyota went up 5.27 to 97.34 while General Motors went up 2.01 to 29.80 and Ford went up 0.70 to 13.57. In the home improvement sector, Home Depot went up 2.53 to 63.18 and Lowes went up 0.60 to 35.58. The car sponsors were also part of the surge. Dupont went up 1.02 to 45.73, Coca-Cola went up 2.12 to 68.70, Target went up 2.01 to 60.58, Aarons Rentals went up 1.46 to 29.11 and Fedex went up 4.52 to 94.91.

That’s it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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